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more about the technical elements of literature

All works of literature incorporate and are made up of these kinds of technical elements—aspects of literature such as meter, form, sound (rhyme), and figures of speech. Any particular work can by analyzed, understood, described, and classified by the particular combination of the technical elements it possesses.

Just as a piece of symphonic music can be characterized and distinguished from other kinds of music by the combination of musical elements it employs—its genreso can a piece of writing be characterized and distinguished from other kinds of writing by the combination of writing elements it employs—its form, content, writing style, and the like. For example, a poem may rhyme or not rhyme; but to be prose, a piece of writing may not rhyme. Epic poetry is not lyric poetry because the technical elements of one differ from the technical elements of the other.

Each of the following is an example of a technical element of literature:

Example 1—verse

A given piece of writing might be characterized as an instance of verse, where verse means poetry. A poem (or a part of a poem) is a composition in verse.

Said another way, a verse is a written work (a poem or part of a poem) consisting of a succession of metrical feet, especially one that is characterized by a highly developed artistic form and by the use of heightened language and rhythm to express an intensely imaginative interpretation of the subject.

Feet and meter are additional examples of technical elements that we shall not examine here.

Example 2—rhyming couplet

A rhyming couplet is another kind of literary technical element; it's a particular type or kind of verse. Said another way, a rhyming couplet is a verse (a poem or part of a poem) in which two successive poetic lines rhyme with each other. An organization which specifies the arrangement of multiple poetic lines is another technical element of literature called a rhyme scheme. The rhyme scheme which defines a rhyming couplet is an arrangement in which two successive poetic lines rhyme with each other.

Here's an example of a rhyming couplet. The last two lines of this verse are the rhyming lines or couplet:

The time is out of joint.

O cursed spite

That ever I was born to set it right!

     —Act I, Scene V, Shakespeare's Hamlet

Because it's a rhyming couplet, these two lines give the verse a kick and a sense of finality that it would not otherwise have.

Example 3—blank verse

Blank verse is yet another technical element. It's a style of writing in which the poetic lines in a verse do not rhyme. Blank verse is a kind of poetry in which the verse is unrhymed; it stands in contrast to rhyming verse., in which the verse is rhymed. Blank verse is a kind of poetry in which the verse is unrhymed.

In English, the term blank verse applies especially to verse written in a meter called unrhymed iambic pentameter, which is the most frequently used verse in English dramatic, epic, and reflective verse. It appears most often in these kinds of works because the its rhythmic patterns are closest to the rhythms of natural speech.

All of Shakespeare's plays are written in a unrhymed iambic pentameter, with the occasional insertion of rhyming couplets or other rhyming structures for effect. Robert Frost's Death of a Hired Man, Milton's Paradise Lost, and Tennyson's Ulysses are other examples of blank verse.

why are they important?

The Muse contends that a reader cannot fully understand or appreciate material he reads until he understands the technical elements that define and describe it. A writer cannot produce a successful piece of writing until he understands the technical elements that define and describe it. This is the case no matter what kind of writing people read or write.

Writing literature is not a haphazard undertaking. A piece of literature is not good or bad by accident, but rather by virtue of its different elements and by how skillfully it incorporates and blends them. For example, different rhyme schemes and meters are appropriate for different purposes; a dirge should not employ a cheerful meter or an uplifting sound scheme. Exploring these kinds of distinctions in writing is one of The Muse's principal objectives and one of the most important aspects of understanding writing.

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